No, I’m not the newly elected mayor of Milton Keynes. Although the prevailing tale is almost as unlikely.
You see, I hate running. Always have. Pointless nonsense undertaken by masochistic narcissistic souls who have nothing better to do and no life. I learnt this early on, whilst trudging and floundering around at the back of the large gaggle of adolescents on our far too regular school cross country run. The boggy Somme-like course pinnacle being “Cow Pat Corner”, which still gives me occasional nightmares even today. How I hated those who glided round returning to cheers, adulation, and it would seem to me without breaking sweat. On reflection, perhaps this life long aversion said more about me than them.
Roll the clocks forward 30 odd years (OK, I’m being conservative) and Hey Presto! One day last year something bizarre happened to me. I woke up very early, with jet lag as the usual culprit, but instead of switching on the laptop or reaching for the remote, I donned my 2008 Nike trainers, a random pair of shorts and a t shirt and headed for the door. I’m still genuinely unclear about how this happened as my mind is generally pretty fuzzy early doors, but it did. It did because the next thing I knew I was trundling around the cities intricate pathways, nooks and crannies, and what’s more I was thoroughly enjoying it. So much so, that I am now proud to declare that I must officially love running.
In fact my new love is far more specific than that. I love running a new city. So far over the last 8 months I have been lucky enough to travel extensively. And my new trick, every time I travel, is to get into my new gear and head out of the hotel as close to the crack of dawn as I can, and randomly run around the city. A keen sense of direction coupled with a taste for adventure has led me to some fabulous early morning sights. From powering families of graceful kangaroos to glimpses of the Indian Ocean hidden behind cliff top gorse. From perfectly colour coordinated posse’s of Tai Chai performers swaying a dawn chorus in unison to a dank foggy coastal track hiding shadowy silhouettes of fellow enthusiasts. From hordes of disembarking, bleary eyed, luggage laden, mobility challenged, cruise ship passengers to static semi conscious lines of fishermen with wives in cars, pets in tow, and tackle strewn across pathways. And there I go, trudging past, taking it all in and genuinely loving it. Even when knackered.
Finding something new to love at an age when you have long since ascertained your supposed lifelong likes and dislikes is a thoroughly rewarding feeling. I encourage you, however you stumble upon it, to find that something new, and surprise and delight yourself.